Final: Hornets 102, Mavs 98

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

We’ll get into the how soon, but let the what and the why come first. The Mavericks got the ball into the paint on 11 of their 27 possessions in the first quarter, turning those trips into 22 points. That doesn’t necessarily mean the shots came from within the paint, but it means that at some point in the possession the ball entered the paint via drive or pass. Why does that matter? Just look at that efficiency. 22 points on 11 shots means the Mavs basically averaged a made shot whenever they got near the rim. Paint drives and rim-rolling big men can absolutely destroy a defense on any given possession unless the coverage is perfect. In the Mavs’ case, their offense in the first quarter — Dennis Smith Jr. in particular — created a lot of problems for the Hornets.


  • Smith was back in action tonight after missing the last couple games with a sprained ankle. He immediately made a few plays that made it quite clear he was feeling alright. At the very beginning of the game, he launched a screaming drive straight to the rim and, for a moment, looked like he was going to test Dwight Howard.

    [wp_hyena imageurl=’’ data_hyena='{“slate”:”300,0.10,15″,”player_fade_speed”:”500″,”control_opacity”:”0,0.9″,”fade_speed”:”250,250″,”style”:2}’]

    Smith eventually changed course and went for a layup and still produced an exciting play and easy finish. The important thing to notice is how much pressure he applied to the defense so early in the shot clock. When you get into the paint five or six seconds into a possession, you’ve got the opponent wrapped around your finger. Smith pushed the pace again later in the first quarter, forcing the entire defense to suck in, and he kicked out a pass to a wide-open Harrison Barnes for three.

    [wp_hyena imageurl=’’ data_hyena='{“slate”:”300,0.10,15″,”player_fade_speed”:”500″,”control_opacity”:”0,0.9″,”fade_speed”:”250,250″,”style”:2}’]

    Smith got into the paint once again a little later, though this time at more of a probing pace. But it seemed like no Hornets defender wanted to step up to slow him down, so he exploded to the rim for a dunk.

    [wp_hyena imageurl=’’ data_hyena='{“slate”:”300,0.10,15″,”player_fade_speed”:”500″,”control_opacity”:”0,0.9″,”fade_speed”:”250,250″,”style”:2}’]

    Someone has to stop him, but they’d be leaving their man to do so. So often we look at guys’ shot-blocking numbers or blame problems on help defenders, but the real issue in this play was the fact that Smith got into the paint to begin with. One thing the rookie does better than most other players in this league is break his opponent down off the dribble 25 feet away from the rim. When he consistently does that, it forces the defense to make some uncomfortable decisions. Smith finished with 21 points, six assists, and four rebounds in his return to action.

  • Doug McDermott has such a quick, easy release. Here’s a play that shows why that’s important.

    [wp_hyena imageurl=’’ data_hyena='{“slate”:”300,0.10,15″,”player_fade_speed”:”500″,”control_opacity”:”0,0.9″,”fade_speed”:”250,250″,”style”:2}’]

    For most players, that’s a horrible situation to shoot the ball. McDermott’s defender is right in his face almost before he even catches the ball. A typical player’s shot takes enough time to wind up that Frank Kaminsky would be able to contest it pretty easily. McDermott’s, however, is so fast that it can trick an unsuspecting defender into stretching themselves out a little further than necessary. In the instance above, Kaminsky lunged out just a hair too far and ended up fouling McDermott, giving the Mavs three free throws. A quick release can make a covered shot open, and a contested shot a foul.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (22-51) will play the Sacramento Kings (24-49) on Tuesday at the Golden 1 Center at 9 p.m. Central.

  • Share and comment

    More Mavs News